Saturday, January 31, 2009

EPOCH + R, round two

This week was similar to my first round of chemotherapy. It took a few days for the tiredness to really kick in, probably because I started out feeling so much better than going into the first cycle. The thirst wasn't quite so strong (I think I drank about 11 8-oz. glasses of fluids a day, instead of 12). The muscle cramps were less severe, although they were spread out this time in my legs and forearms and the arches of my feet (the first cycle I only had cramping in my inner thighs). No buzzing in my ears at all this time, which was really nice.

My hair has continued to fall out; I sometimes think I look like the character Golem in the Lord of the Rings movies. My eyebrows and eyelashes are so far unaffected, which is a nice bright spot.

My food cravings have been different; for example, the first cycle I wanted hot chocolate every day. This time, I had hot chocolate on two days, but it wasn't as good. This morning, I woke up at 4am and microwaved some frozen minestrone soup, and wondered if I could get the partner to run to the grocery store for some orange juice (which didn't sound good at all during my first round) and grapefruit. Maybe when the store opens.

Starting in the break weeks, I've been having trouble eating salty or spicy foods because the inside of my mouth is tender. I really like spicy foods, and snacky-type foods that don't require preparation tend to be salty, so this has been a difficult adjustment.

I've given blood regularly since I was 18, and my heart rate has always been in the 80s. This week, my resting heart rate dropped to the 60s, which has felt very odd. I'm guessing my heart got a really good aerobic workout pressing against the tumor for so many months, and is now showing off how buff it is.

On Thursday, they told me I was anemic, with a hematocrit level of 29.5 (I think below 30 is anemic for premenopausal women). To give blood, they require a hemotocrit level of 38, which I have struggled to maintain since becoming vegetarian - my normal diet has a low iron content. The chemo drugs damage the intestine lining, so I'm sure reduced absorption is compounding the difficulty my damaged bone marrow has making red blood cells. There are shots they can give to help anemia. But, they do not give the shots if they are treating the cancer with intent to cure. Knowing I'll probably be more tired because of the anemia isn't fun, but it is pleasant to dwell on being cured.

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